60 Second Windows by Fred Showker

October 10, 2003

#161: The Talk Show Host Scenario

... ideas on stopping spam

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: there are dozens of "anti-spam" organizations out there who are certainly "well intentioned" and who have done some good in terms of educating people about spam.

However after experiencing three days in Washington at the FTC Spam Forum, and then reading the news coverage of spam -- and seeing what's going on in Congress, I have the distinct the feeling that everyone in the main stream is more interested in occupying the 'limelight' than actually doing anything about spam.

One well known anti-spam organization spokesman stated adamantly that his organization does NOT take action beyond "legislative advocacy" and would not participate in any other programs. He was answering to my questions about programs that would literally eradicate spam -- but not put him in the limelight.

These organizations are against IP blocking, and black-hole lists. They advocate legitimizing spam through "opt-in". Congress is hemming and hawing over what it is and what should be done. ISPs are spending literally millions on spam filtering, adding band-aid over band-aid to hide spam rather than a frontal attack on the source. When the toothache is so bad you can't stand it any more -- you pull the rotten tooth. Period.

Folks, there are no "legitimate" means of opting in, nor opting out -- beyond requiring written permissions from the person "opting" in. It just won't happen. You can see what happened with the FTC's "Do Not Call" effort.

The "Talk Show" Host Scenario:

I've been advocating a world-wide call-to-arms for a consumer backlash to end spam. To mount any kind of organized consumer movement however we would need some serious "Weapons of Mass Instruction." This is how it works.

After much research and thought about possible legal solutions outside of the judicial system (which we know won't work,) we came upon this concept:

A leading radio talk show host with the most number of listeners would hold a "Spam Complaint Minute" each day at a certain time on the radio show.

The name of the day's most prolific spammer would be announced, and the talk show host would carefully key in the offending spammer's URL or IP address, while carefully spelling it out for all to hear -- and follow. Then, he would then click the link to the spammer's site. Chances are, his listening audience would do the same.

Once word of this got around, people would understand what's happening here and participate in a public demonstration of disgust with spammers. They too would key in the URL along with the host and click at the appropriate moment.

The offending domain would then crash under the load of hundreds of thousands of "requests" at the same moment -- causing a sort of "Legal Denial of Service."

Actual case

Several years ago Rush Limbaugh announced the new web site for his favorite soft drink, Snapple. He read off the domain URL -- and to everyone's surprise, the audience clicked to go there. Snapple's servers were knocked out immediately and didn't come back up for five days. At the time, Limbaugh only had a minor listening audience. Today, he ranks in the top ten. Howard Stern has more. Many more. Sean Hannity (Fox News) has almost as many. Neal Boortz is #4 on the list. Any of these could successfully run this program if they would.

However, I've contacted all of these people multiple times and they don't respond. Either they are so well insulated from their audience that no message gets through, they would rather not respond to such an outrageous idea, or they simply don't give a hoot. I tried the same with Fark.com, to "Fark A Spammer"* but they did respond -- and won't do it because they are afraid of being 'farked' back by the cyber criminals.

So there you have it. Someone in a position to do something but won't. Keep reading: Scenario #2 "The Call In"

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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